Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Eugenics was an international scientific, political and moral ideology and movement which was at its height in first half of the 20th century and was largely abandoned with the end of World War II. The movement often pursued pseudoscientific notions of racial supremacy and purity.

Eugenic was not confined to any one country or culture, but was practised around the world and was promoted by governments, and influential individuals and institutions. Its advocates regarded it as a social philosophy for the improvement of human hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of certain people and traits, and the reduction of reproduction of certain people and traits. Today it is widely regarded as a brutal movement which inflicted massive human rights violations on millions of people. The "interventions" advocated and practised by eugenicists involved prominently the identification and classification of individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, 'promiscuous women', homosexuals and entire "racial" groups——such as the Roma and Jews——as "degenerate" or "unfit"; the segregation or institutionalisation of such individuals and groups, their sterilization, their "euthanasia", and in the worst case of Nazi Germany, their mass extermination

Eugenics in Germany

Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler was infamous for eugenics programs which attempted to maintain a "pure" German race through a series of programs that ran under the banner of racial hygiene. Among other activities, the Nazis performed extensive experimentation on live human beings to test their genetic theories, ranging from simple measurement of physical characteristics to complex measurements of the internal organ systems. During the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazi regime forcibly sterilized hundreds of thousands of people whom they viewed as mentally and physically unfit, an estimated 400,000 between 1934 and 1937. The scale of the Nazi program prompted one American eugenics advocate to seek an expansion of their program, with one complaining that "the Germans are beating us at our own game". The Nazis went further, however, killing tens of thousands of the institutionalized disabled through compulsory "euthanasia" programs.

They also implemented a number of positive eugenics policies, giving awards to Aryan women who had large numbers of children and encouraged a service in which "racially pure" single women could deliver illegitimate children

Eugenics in USA

In the USA, eugenic supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association and the National Research Council. Research was funded by distinguished philanthropies and carried out at prestigious universities. It was taught in college and high school classrooms as well

Eugenics was supported by Woodrow Wilson, and, in 1907, helped to make Indiana the first of more than thirty states to adopt legislation aimed at compulsory sterilization of certain individuals.

However, no clear proof for an inferior gene is ever produced by the scientists. But the entire world believed that such genes existed. Media and the government helped people stay under the state of fear with all the scary unverified information. It was alleged that FDR once quoted that Jesus would have supported Eugenics if he were alive.

Today, Eugenics was dropped. After all no one can sustain an allegation for a long period of time. But, there is a similarity between Eugenics and global warming. The global warming does not have any concrete proof. The climate change, increase in temperature due to human activities are mere predictions by the scientists. None of them is proven. And the entire world believes that global warming is the scariest thing in the world. The government, philanthropists, celebrities and media engage in endless campaign. But, will they succeed? If yes, for how long? The answer is anyone's guess.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The music teacher

Author's note: All the characters and the incident described in this short story are true. The name of the characters are changed but all the characters exist.

"Good evening sir" said a three year old girl, Vidhya, with a sweet little voice which is as clean as a whistle. She was carrying a small plate that contains a coconut, a few beetle leaves, supari, half a dozen ripe bananas and hundred and one rupees. She neatly handed over the plate and its contents to Munnah, hesitated for a moment and finally said "Sir, I want to join your school and take carnatic music lessons"

Munnah knelt down to make a clear eye contact with the girl, collected the plate and looked at her mother who is standing next to Vidhya. Munnah runs a small school for carnatic music. He handles vocal music for small kids from three to eight.

Though Vidhya is three years old, she looked a lot smaller for her age. Munnah got up after pinching Vidhya's cheek gently and looked asked Vidhya's mother Saroja to take a seat.

"She looks a lot small than an average three year old, isint she? " Munnah said.

Saroja lent back in her chair and was silent for a while. It took sometime for her to get the question and after a few seconds she replied "Yes, she is"

He has handled many very young kids in the past. Most of them stopped learning in a week or two. Something inside him told him that this girl has a special voice, a rare one, and hence he wanted to be very careful. "I think you should wait for six more months. It will only help her to learn better. She is too small and I think lacks that maturity to understand and sing" he said and tried to be very reassuring.

"I want to learn music and I want to start learning now" cried Vidhya as soon as Munnah stopped talking.

"See, that's the problem. She wouldn't listen. Honestly, I also had the same opinion as you" said Saroja, with a worried look on her face.

"That's not a problem Madam. It is very rare to see girls like Vidhya. She has a genuine liking towards music. Most of the kids come here only because their parents force them"

Vidhya smiled. Sweetly. Saroja was silent for a while. The room was silent for a while. Then she broke it and said "OK. When can you start the lessons for her?"

"Its Friday today. So, we shall have a small session and then let her attend classes daily starting from tomorrow. 4PM to 5PM is the time for her"

"I am not sure whether she can sing today" Sajora said with a worried look on her face.

"I can" interrupted Vidhya with a feebls voice, facing down and almost on the verge of crying. Girls somehow develop this natural instinct right from the younger age. And they are very good in that with experience.

Munnah looked at Saroja. He is not sure whether to start the lessons. He waited for Saroja's approval. She stayed calm and silent for a while and finally nodded her head for approval.

Munnah took Vidhya to his room and showed her his keyboard. Her eyes lit when the saw the big instrument. Saroja also followed them to the music room. Munnah ensured that his new student was comfortable and started with the first lesson in carnatic music. The sarali varisai. He started singing the first swaram, "Sa" and asked Vidhya to repeat.

Vidhya got exited for a moment. She raised her hand and said "I know this, will you allow me to sing? "

Munnah was taken aback. He gently adjusted her hair and pinched her cheek and said " Sure, please sing whatever you know"

Vidhya started the first verse in Sarali varisai and sang almost flawlessly. The music teacher became so exited that he lifted her in his arms and kissed her on both the cheeks, looked up at Saroja and said " Your daughter has special talent. She will go places" and continued with the lessons. But, after three minutes of singing, she started breathing heavily. Singing every swaram became more difficult for her.

Munnah stopped playing his keyboard, looked at Saroja and said "Is she not well today? Looks like she is tired. Did you see the doctor? What did he say?". He didn't get any answer for a while. Then he realized that he had asked a lot of questions in a stretch.

"She is fine" Saroja said. Her voice was a bit shaky. "She is fine" she said again. After a long pause "Its just that this is her capacity. She cannot sing or talk continuously for more than three minutes". At this point she lost her composure. Tears started rolling into her cheeks.

Munnah was not sure what was happening around him. He stood up and went closer to Saroja and asked reluctantly "Is anything wrong with her? Is she suffering from any long term illness?".

She wiped her tears, which is now flowing like a river, and said " She has problems with her breathing and cardio vascular system right from her birth. Or even before. Only god knows". Her tears were uncontrollable. Her handkerchief was now half soaked with saline water.

The music teacher was getting frustrated as he could not understand much from whatever Saroja was telling him. He raised his voce and said " I don't understand a word from whatever you said. What is the problem with her? Put it in simple words, will you?"

"She has got only one lung and her heart is in the opposite side" she said and covered her face with her hands. She started crying again. This time it was more violent.

Suddenly, Munnah found himself in an awkward situation. He was not sure how to console Saroja. He looked at Vidhya and could not believe that she is suffering from such an illness. To break the silence, he bluntly asked "What ? , what are the doctors saying? Can she have any surgery or transplants?"

"That is not a possibility. Stem cells is an option, but she should have born fifty years from now to get a meaningful treatment. As of now, she cannot walk for more than five minutes, cannot talk or sing for more than three minutes, cannot stay in temperatures less than 25 degrees. These are only a few of thousand restrictions put on her"

"Did you check with the doctor whether she can take singing lessons?"


"What did he say?"

"He said No."

"Then why did you bring her to my class?"

"Because I love singing" said Vidhya with a sweet voice, with both arms raised and with a broad smile. The voice and her desire to sing knew nothing about her illness. Munnah's jaw dropped a few inches, eyes became moist and felt a big lump in his throat.

Munnah has never seen or heard about such an illness. He felt for the kid. There are millions of healthy kids in the world with absolutely no interest in music. There are millions of kids with a beautiful voice but with no opportunity to learn music. But, here is one kid with a beautiful voice and a wonderful tutor, but…

His head started spinning. He was helpless and does not know what to do next. Saroja was still crying with her face covered. Vidhya started breathing normally now. She opened her book again , looked at her tutor with her soft gentle eyes and said " Shall I sing again now? I have noted down all the mistakes I did the last time". She looked exited every bit. That she was about to sing again.

Munnah could not stop the tears he was fighting for a while. "Why god?" he thought. "Of all the people in the world, why this girl? Why did you give her the voice and take a lung in exchange?" he said to himself. Finally, it took a lot in him to find his composure and asked Saroja "How did this happen" with a low tone that could be barely heard.

"The doctors were not sure" She said and continued after a short pause. "I am a marketing person. I do a lot of business using my cellular phone. The doctors are saying that she could have been over exposed to radiation. I used cellular phone for long durations when I was pregnant. It was all my mistake". Her voice grew stronger towards the end.

"It was all my mistake" she said after a short pause. This time it was more of a hiss.

Munnah's situation was even more awkward now. It is not everyday he sees a charming kid with a sweet voice joining his class. It is not everyday a student's mother cries in front of you. Both happened for him on the same day. He was shell-shocked. He has seen half a liter of tears already. He had to do something to make her comfortable. He has to do something atleast to stop the tears. He has to break the silence in the room. He was totally unsure what to do. Finally, he asked "What are you doing now?" Within seconds he ralised that he has asked a stupid question.

"I am married for three years now. God gave me a chance to live a happy and peaceful life. I blew it. God gave my husband wonderful job, family and a kid. I blew them all. Finally God gave my child a beautiful voice. I blew it as well" Munnah can see the frustration on her face when she spoke. Looking at her face, he was sure that she has not finished. He kept silent cautiously. He does not want to ask another stupid question.

She took a sip of water from the glass kept on a table near her and she continued " I am doing community service now with a private organization and I help the organization to increase awareness about the radiation hazards from cellular phones. Especially to pregnant women. Many people think that these radiations are mild. Well, it could be true. But, mild radiation for a half grown baby inside the womb is huge. And we want people to realize that."

Munnah tried to visualize one lung and heart on the right hand side of the human body. The more he thought about it, the more he felt dizzy. He accepted Vidhya as his student and assured Saroja that he will take nice care of her.

He closed his eyes for a moment, gathered all his courage and composure, opened his eyes to see a sweet little girl in front of her. She looked like the happiest person in the world. By far.

"Sir, shall we start our next lesson?" she asked.

Moral: Cellular phones are no longer a luxury these days. It is a necessity. Just because we have the equipment in our hands, we tend to overuse it without even caring about safety procedures. I am sure there are many occasions in which we can avoid using cell phones. Let us be responsible and leave the world unharmed for the future generations to live.

State of fear

Every person in the world has a natural fear for one thing or the other. Some fear for ghosts, some fear for darkness, even some fear for cockroaches, while some fear for all of these. Only one thing among humans is common. Fear. This basic instinct of human being is being capitalised by the governments and the media. At any given point of time, either the government or the media keeps the people under tremendous pressure or fear.

To start with, try to answer these two questions. What is the inflation data for the week ending this Friday? What is the price of crude oil per barrel as of today? These two issues are publicised as much as possible by the media in the recent past. Isn't it the duty of media to inform people when good things happen as much as they publicised the bad things? 'Oil on the boil' was the caption when the price of oil went up to 147 dollars per barrel. Now, oil is on the cool. Who bothers? The same applies to the inflation data as well.

Let us look at a few examples over the last one hundred years. We all know that global warming is a potential threat to the world in the coming years. For some reason the world is heating up for the last 150 years. It could well be due to the green house effect, which is the major factor for global warming. The amount of co2 that is emitted due to human activity is increasing. No question about that. But the amount of co2 in the environment is still less than half a percent.

But, the weight of all termites existing in the world is more than the weight of all human beings in the world. Termites excrete methane. Methane is a green house gas which contributes for global warming. To make things worse, methane is 21 times destructive when compared to co2. Yet, no one publicises it.

According to global warming theory, the upper atmosphere should get heated up first before the Earth's surface. But, the current phenomenon does not prove any increase in upper atmospheric temperature. Global warming also states that the number of frosty days will come down. But the whole of Europe is experiencing highest number of frosty days for the last 18 years. Fishy, isn't it?

When the temperature data for two places, New York and Albany, which are just 100 KM apart, the data shows that the average temperature of New York rose by 7 degrees in the last 150 years while the average temperature of Albany decreased by one degree over the same period. As the name suggests, shouldn't global warming be 'Global'. Then, why this discrepancy within 100 km? Could the high concrete structures that came up in New York, also known as urbanisation, be the reason? Well, thats something to think about. Isn't it?

The whole concept of instilling the fear about global warming only started after the Second World War. But the world is getting warmed up for the last 150 years, for some reason. So, why wasn't global warming publicised then? Well, the media is busy instilling fear among the people due the first and second world wars.

Ayn Rand, one of the great visionaries, predicted that the media will become so powerful in the book 'The fountainhead' which was written in the early 1920s. All the time, the media's duty is only to keep the people in a 'State of fear'.